Washoe, claimed to be the first chimpanzee to learn sign language, died this week. Her reputation was well-known, but many scientists are still skeptical that Washoe actually learned to "talk." Washoe was born in West Africa in 1965.
As an infant, she was captured and sold to the U.S. military, which used chimpanzees for medical experiments. But two scientists, Allen and Beatrix Gardner, took Washoe home with them to Reno, Nevada. And for several years, they and a small team of helpers lived with Washoe, played with Washoe — and talked to Washoe, using American Sign Language.